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WIPULI HETTIARACCHI

 

We are Women…

 

‘Anyone home…?’

Housecoat buttoned quickly up

over the night dress

the voice hardly able to reply

 

‘Is there anybody here..?’

 

They have come on a task assigned

 

Still half asleep

Mother struggles to find words and

to prevent her face and body freezing

I switch on lights from room to room

 

To ensure safety in the town

they search a house that has

no visitors or lodgers, not even a dog

 

‘Where are the men of the house?’

 

Sniffing even at our minds

that have harmed not even an ant

they look around with suspicion

 

‘Only both of you?’

 

On other days my mother would lie

that her husband would return soon

and her son was at work

but her wits that always found the right word

for the right time and place

were not working today.

 

In front of a crowd of men

wearing uniforms and stars

with guns in their hands

I scream

 

‘Yes. Who else?

We are the men

Who have survived in this home.’

 

Translated by Liyanage Amarakeerthi

NATCHATHIRAN CHEVVINDHIYAN

 

Shell Shocked

 

Only night seems full

since by day we carried the coffins

of the family killed by shells

 

I shed no tears

 

Only night seems so full

for I am scared to be at my desk

worried about shells

‘God, today I pray to thee’

and lie prostrate in penance

on my mat. No sleep comes.

 

All night I wake up

calling and bowing to God

I offered fifty cents

to the Murugan temple in Vayalveli,

covering myself in a blanket

 

As the blanket gets pulled and tugged,

I roam in fear

in the courtyard for a long time

waiting for the sound of shelling

 

Bodies blasted to pieces appear

As I wash my face in the evening

corpses stand up before me

No legs, no arms

cocks and cunts full of seed

showing pain and sorrow

telling me at midnight

I only dream about blood

 

What does the day know?

 

Translated by Kanchana Damodaran

 

 

WILHELM EPHRAUMS

 

Boys

 

When death comes to you

smug

Like a bullet

You will not know what life was

You are young. Twenty one.

Maybe less.

When tender hands

Wrung the grief over you

Like your red

White school shirt

You will not hear

Tied to the strong, brown earth

Nothing is coherent.

Crows’ wings, sand, sun

Or the pile of dry leaves

In your mouth.

Or the stumble-and-fall

As the breath rasped in your companion’s throat.

You never heard the knell

Even at half-time.

Shattered between pebbles

And hell.

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